Marcelo Bielsa outlines Leeds United's plan for West Ham and assesses realistic chances of Whites winning FA Cup

Marcelo Bielsa has outlined Leeds United's plan in seek of victory at Sunday's FA Cup hosts West Ham and says the trophy is a realistic target in a historic year for the Whites.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 8th January 2022, 3:56 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th January 2022, 3:58 pm

Bielsa's side have exited the competition at the first hurdle in each of the last three seasons, the Whites beaten 2-1 at QPR in January 2019, losing 1-0 despite excelling at Arsenal in January 2020 and then floored 3-0 by League Two hosts Crawley Town last term.

Premier League highflyers West Ham United will now provide this season's third round opponents in a 2pm kick-off at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The fifth-placed Hammers sit 11 positions and 15 points above fifth-bottom Leeds in the top-flight table and the Irons are odds-on favourites to condemn United to another exit at the opening stage.

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EYES ON THE PRIZE: From Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, above. Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

Leeds also have widescale injury problems to deal with but Bielsa has outlined how his side will look to book their place in the fourth round in the 50th anniversary season of the club's sole FA Cup triumph.

Former legendary boss Don Revie's side won the competition for the only time in the club's history in 1972 and Bielsa says every competition is one that his side will try to win.

“Always an official competition is a possibility, desire and hope," said Bielsa, asked what it would mean to enjoy some cup success on the 50th anniversary of the club's only triumph in the FA Cup?

“The opportunities you have to mark them in a general context.

“From there you evaluate the achievements you make and you make fixed priorities and we observe what is more convenient in each moment, so there are many aspects that we have to analyse.

"I don't go deeper into it but I know they exist, and it's very important to make the correct decisions to create the maximum expectations, because the expectations have to do with our fans.

"The hope the fans have are the same that we have, to do what's possible to get what we desire."

Asked whether winning the FA Cup was a realistic target for his side, Bielsa insisted: "Every competition is a possibility and we take it in that way.

“Every game we focus on it with the intention to win.

"The evolution within the competition is very difficult to anticipate.

"I think what corresponds is that we try with humility to win.

“We always try to win in every official game we have. There is never a need for added motivation.

"Every time the group plays, the desire is always the maximum and to win."

Sunday's hosts West Ham are only one point adrift of the Champions League spots and the Hammers are eighth in the betting market to win the FA Cup at 20-1. Leeds are 50s.

Asked what it would take to beat David Moyes' thriving Hammers team, Bielsa reasoned: "We're going to try that the characteristics of our play are expressed and that will allow us to beat them."

Pressed on his poor record in the competition after exiting the tournament at the opening stage for three years in a row, Bielsa was not interested in looking for excuses.

Asked if there was any particular reason for falling at the first fence three years in a row, the Whites boss said simply: "Because in those games, we haven't been able to overcome the opponent on that day."

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Thank you Laura Collins